Madame de Barra is a curiosity – a widowed woman gardener in seventeenth century France with the drive to make her visions a reality. When the unhappy gardening genius le Notre engages her to create a cutting-edge new al fresco ballroom for the King, it’s fairly obvious how it will all end.
Directed by, co-written by and featuring Alan Rickman as the bored and pointless seventeenth century French King, trapped inside a suffocating cage and wanting only the one woman he can’t have, it’s a deceptively tranquil take on ageing, loss and love. Continue Reading
Jupiter Ascending is the latest extravaganza from the Wachowskis – spoiler alert!
Mila Kunis’ (Ted) Jupiter Jones leads a hated poverty-trap life cleaning other people’s loos with her Russian immigrant family in Chicago. A chance decision to sell her own eggs to an alien-infested fertility clinic lands her into the chaotic realisation that she has inherited planet Earth from herself, and her son/fiancé is none too happy about it…
So far, so promisingly bonkers, but is it any good? Nowhere near as much all-out fun as Guardians of the Galaxy, which it resembles. Continue Reading
They had better get this right, thought this under-the-bedclothes torch-lit-reading child with fond memories of the adventures of Michael Bond’s bear from Peru – and they so have…
The film has PG rating, which caused some scorn on release. It’s terrific family fun, with cross dressing, innuendo, dangerous stunts and lots and lots of mess in the finest panto tradition.
We’re in an alternate universe London, a city of candy coloured Georgian terraces where the bears can talk and the Geographers hang out in a steampunk palace. It’s lovely to look at, with beautiful state of the art CGI bears. Continue Reading
Screenwriter Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) delivers a workmanlike take on this well-known tale of a 19th century marital failure.
Dakota Fanning (Twilight) takes the lead as Ruskin’s teenage bride, her perfect mellifluous English accent nailed, but her lines recited in a composed monotone and the flawless face unmarred by any real expression.
Greg Wise (Johnny English, Walking on Sunshine) , David Suchet (Poirot, Executive Decision) and Julie Walters (Harry Potter) are a fine and creepy trio as the ascetic mummy’s boy with a little girl fixation and his chilly obsessed parents, ruling their world of candlelit Victorian murk.
Thompson herself is the liveliest note, her ‘concerned head girl’ chatty style suiting the role of supportive confidante Lady Eastlake. Continue Reading
Sometimes feeling like a giant episode of the late lamented Firefly, it’s fun, inventive and spectacular to look at with some marvellous CGI work and a SCRIPT. An actual honest to goodness script. Some great performances, with the standout surprise that is Dave Bautista as the endearingly heartfelt vengeance-fuelled irony-free Drax stealing the show. Recommended. PH
[Small spoilers alert]
During the chaos at the end of WW2 as the Russians and Americans are circling the wreck of Europe, a man with a plan collects a motley team of art experts together to help retrieve and return a continent’s mountain of looted art treasures to its rightful owners.
If you’re looking for action, violence and large scale spectacle you won’t get it – what this film excels in is its charming blokey friendships, with a ‘let’s get through this’ sense of humour and a different agenda at odds with the rest of the Allies. Visually stunning recreations of the destruction and devastation of city, art and life mix with astonishing real archive images of stacks of priceless treasures and their epic hiding places. Continue Reading
This highly anticipated sequel to Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon’s 2011 Thor is great fun, looks fabulous, and is streets ahead of the recent Superman offering.…
A sterling turn from Chris Hemsworth as a heroic, handsome and sincere Thor, though Natalie Portman’s beautifully blow-dried heroine Jane hasn’t much to do except get infected, fought over – and mope.
Tom Hiddleston is clearly having a ball, stealing the show as the humorous, vicious and treacherous Loki Continue Reading
How does a film from the team that created the huge hit Pirates of the Caribbean’fail at the box office?
Here’s how: take a children’s radio and TV Western adventure series and remake it, cram in a mix of styles that don’t match, rack up an extraordinary level of violence, amorality and gore and add cannibalism, prostitution and a random threat of rape and you end up with a film that doesn’t know who its audience is.
It’s presented as a tale told to a child by a disconcerting Old Tonto at a 1930s sideshow, but one moment it’s ‘don’t take it seriously, do it all tongue in cheek’ – then the next, there’s a gross scene reminiscent of ‘Soldier Blue’. Continue Reading
Brit Henry Cavill slips into the cape and red Speedos in Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s version of Superman. Guest Post by Philippa Hammond of Everything Express and Speaking Well in Public.
Man of Steel – Henry Cavill. Gosh yes. Well done. I mean. Goodness me. Cor.
However … please Hollywood, buy the poor crew a steadicam or at the very least a decent tripod. And no matter how spectacular the SFX, it does not replace a proper script! Standing about telling each other the plot, indeed … watch the Christopher Reeve Superman for how to do it. Continue Reading
Guest post by Philippa Hammond of Everything Express and Speaking Well in Public.
I will stand up and confess to having been a bit of a Trekkie [Trekker?] since I was eleven, and am hugely enjoying JJ Adams’ re-booting the Star Trek universe into a second time-line, allowing for a lot of references, homages and in-jokes, and why not. So, to the good [mostly], the bad [a few minor kvetchettes] and the ugly [an unfortunate uniform style choice].
Catapulted into a near-disastrous adventure at the beginning, the zippy pace is set, although I found the level of violence coupled with the extraordinary amount of crying a rather uneasy blend.
Chris Pine (Unstoppable, People Like Us) is the young action hero personified, and in certain camera angles he is Kirk – maybe it’s the nose – and his performance is heartfelt, energetic and entirely true to the character. Continue Reading